Municipal programme seeks to foster equity, security
By Shirwin Campbell
Guyana Chronicle
October 19, 2003

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A PROGRAMME to encourage Guyanese municipalities to play a strong role in fostering equity, security, inclusion, collaboration and sustainable development in Guyana and for them to develop agendas to address their priorities, is currently ongoing.

The five year Municipal Governance and Management Programme (MGMP) funded by Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will strengthen local governance and management in six communities - Georgetown, New Amsterdam, Linden, Rose Hall and Anna Regina.

At the conclusion of the Municipal Agenda Process (MAP) orientation and training scheduled tomorrow at the Lake Main Stay Resort, participants would have:

* Developed an understanding of the Municipal Agenda

* Discussed the stages and activities involved in the Municipal Agenda process

* Discussed the needs for people's participation in the development of the Municipal Agenda

* Examined strategies for the implementation of the Municipal Agenda, and

* Clarified the role of MAP Team in developing the Municipal Agenda

The programme, which will provide team members with the requisite knowledge to enable them to effectively execute their functions, has its genesis in 2001, when the Government of Guyana requested assistance from Canada to help with decentralisation.

The Canadian Government, in turn, asked Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Authorities to help in developing a proposal to work with the Municipalities, and as a result, the Guyana Municipal Governance and Management Programme (MGMP) was established.

To determine the priority areas, an intense period of consultation with Municipalities and key functionaries was held. Approval from a steering committee was necessary before the programme commenced.

The Steering Committee comprises Mayors, representative of the Finance and Local Government Ministries, the Canadian Government and FCM.

Consultations will be held in November 2003 at the village level by the six teams (municipalities). All the plans will be considered in April at a national workshop.

Projects are designed to encompass the four stages of the municipal development process: Consensus Building, Capacity Building, Application and Institutionalisation.

Guyanese municipal officials and partners will cooperate with Canadian practitioners to develop practical attainable and sustainable solutions for municipal issues.

MGMP focuses its efforts in five outcome areas: Municipal Leadership and Management; Municipal Services; Participatory Governance; Policy Development; Enabling Institutions.

MGMP projects are designed to address municipal and institutional priorities supporting capacity-building and knowledge-building initiatives.

The project will include diagnostic work, planning, training, seminars, technical exchanges, technical assistance, studies and coaching services.
Through MGMP, the government, municipalities, local communities and the private sector will benefit from the improved municipal management and service delivery in several priority areas.

Local communities will experience improved services and increased access to municipal government processes and through well-governed municipalities services, infrastructure and democratic conditions will create healthy and livable environments for all citizens.

The Municipal Governance and Management Programme will also help the government to foster good governance and reduce poverty in order to develop sustainable communities.

MGMP is implemented by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), which is an association of municipal governments in Canada with 1,000 members, which include large cities, small urban and rural communities, and provincial associations.

Since its creation in 1937, FCM has supported local government reform processes at home and abroad.
Major players attending the communal session included Ms. Beverly Braithwaite-Chan, Programme Manager; Maurice Alarie, Programme Director MGMP/FCM; Murray Kam, Head of Aid, Canadian High Commission, and Philip Hamilton, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government; and several regional officials.

Delivering the feature address, Mr. Hamilton said that his Ministry is happy to be part of the process and lauded the initiative, noting that it was never done before.

Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Clinton Collymore, Hamilton noted that this promotes the importance of maximum participation of the people. He pointed out that the Local Government system is suffering from lack of maximum participation by the people for the people.

This must be addressed by educating people and encouraging them to be part of the process in its entirety, Hamilton said. He hailed the landmark achievement in the municipality as a turning point towards accelerated development in the local government system.

"All are aboard, all are involved and all will contribute towards the development or else all of us will be consumed in poverty, stagnation, indebtedness and under development," the Permanent Secretary pointed out.

"The days for those things are over, together we build, together we build quickly and together we build for prosperity and sustainability," he concluded.

Hamilton assured Mr. Kam that the resources would not go in vain, and that very shortly, the positive impact of CIDA's contribution will be recognised.

Mr. Kam noted that his presence is an indication of importance of CIDA 's development programme.

CIDA activity has three areas of priority: governance, economic wellbeing, and social development; of the three, governance is the most important, because it is where most of the money will be spent within next five years, he explained